Finding someone who hasn’t dreamt of owning a Fortuner will be an exercise in futility — it’s got the perfect size, great ground clearance, an able and efficient engine, and best of all — it’s a Toyota.
With such great attributes, it’s no wonder that the first-generation Fortuner stayed in the market for 10 long years, and not for lack of creativity or ingenuity on Toyota’s part, but simply because it really was that good.
It was the best-selling model in its class in the Philippines during its tenure and was also hugely popular in Thailand, where it is manufactured, and in India as well.
The second-generation model was launched early 2016 and after a year in the local market, I highlight some of the features that make the best mid-sized SUV in the Philippines even better.
BIGGER IS BETTER
The all-new Fortuner is longer and wider than the previous generation. This added size has allowed it to trim the height by 15mm while also managing to increase headroom — now that’s one mean feat of engineering right there. That combination makes for better aerodynamic performance (increasing fuel efficiency just on exterior design alone) while also making the ingress and egress of occupants easier and more comfortable.
Toyota has introduced the ‘Keen Look’ (first debuted on the Altis) to the second-gen Fortuner. This is clearly evident with new slim Bi-Beam LED headlamps with Daytime Running Lamps in front and even the slender LED tail lamps at the rear. The fin-type antenna gives it a more upscale look but the best exterior feature would have to be the blacked-out D-pillar that’s emphasized by a new lightning bolt design on the bottom window frame. When treated with all-around dark tint, it makes the rear part of the Fortuner’s roof look like it isn’t held up by anything.
Soft leather wraps the seats and various panels of the interior, including the borders of the infotainment system and the steering wheel to give the all-new Fortuner a real classy look. But the best interior features by far are the large dome lights with rear climate control and the record-setting 12 cup holders that should satisfy even the most demanding of passengers.
Having a third row is great unless you have to get in there or place stuff in it. Even with the second row backrest pulled forward in conventional mid-sized SUVs, you’ll still literally have to climb in just to drop something in the third row. Now with a simple pull of the lever, the backrest on the second row folds and the entire seat flips forward for easier access to the third row.
But that’s not even the best part. The third row seats, which seat about two adults comfortably, feature a new ‘Flip-Fold-and-Clip System.’ Standing in front of an open rear hatch, pull on a couple of cords from the rear of the seats to flip the backrest, fold the entire seat sideways and then latch it onto the clip to increase rear cargo space.
The new 2.8L 1GD-FTV engine on the top-of-the-line Fortuner is smaller and yet more powerful with 174 HP. Most of its 450 Nm of torque is palpable on the low end to give it a more energetic take-off considering the heft and size that it carries.
After seven days with it, I averaged about 10 kilometers per liter on combined city and highway driving making it one of the most fuel-efficient mid-sized SUVs in the market right now. Plus, it comes with Hill Descent and Hill Start Assist for those adventurous enough to take this baby off-road, and a power-tailgate to make closing and opening of the rear much easier.
STILL THE BEST, PERIOD
Although more expensive than before at P2.126-million (for this trim), a new engine with better efficiency, highly improved driving dynamics, numerous awesome features and Toyota’s world-renowned durability and reliability more than justifies the price hike.
Numbers on the road only twelve months after the launch clearly shows it is still the people’s favorite because of its value-for-money proposition.
It set the bar pretty high after its introduction in 2005 but the all-new Toyota Fortuner V 2.8 AT clearly shows that the best can get even better.